- scene (n.)
- 1530s, "subdivision of an act of a play," also "stage-setting," from Middle French scène (14c.), from Latin scaena, scena "scene, stage," from Greek skene "scene, stage," originally "tent or booth," related to skia "shadow, shade," via notion of "something that gives shade," from PIE root *skai- "to shine, flicker, glimmer" (see shine).
Meaning "place in which the action of a literary work occurs" is attested from 1590s; general sense (non-literary) is recorded from 1590s. U.S. slang sense of "setting or milieu for a specific group or activity" is attested from 1951 in Beat jargon. Meaning "stormy encounter between two or more persons" is attested from 1761. Behind the scenes (1660s) is an image from the theater, "amid actors and stage machinery" (where patrons are not admitted). Scene of the crime (1923) first attested in Agatha Christie.